Reminders — A poem for Parsha Korach (Aliyah 3)

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the censers of these who sinned . . . and they shall make them into flattened out plates as an overlay for the altar . . . and they shall be as a reminder for the children of Israel.

Numbers 17:3

In the back yard of my old house
a stone Buddha with a smile like dinnertime
and a belly like many dinnertimes gone by
sits on a small, rectangular plot of land
surrounded by brick, stucco, and sidewalk.
Deep under his feet, commingled with soil,
a box, and a veterinary towel, lay the
remains of my first three cats.

Buddha’s never-ending joviality reminds us
of the joy those three gave us – their nighttime
purrs and pounces, their bodies on our chests
when our morning eyes first opened.
Buddha keeps their souls safe in that space
while we’ve moved on to another one.

On my computer, every Wednesday
words pop up to remind me what I once did
and to never do that again. I could turn it off
but I wouldn’t dare.

Millennia ago, even though I was there,
after the ground swallowed up the heretics
we took their frying pans, melted them down
and decorated our holiest space.
Not for the aesthetic, but so whenever we
went there we’d be reminded of what they did
and never do it again.

I think that’s why we hoard the objects of our past
the useless memoirs that only take up space
to remind us of what was, good and bad.
We make museums of our lives. I’m already
laying out the admission fees for those yet to come.
What we do here matters, good and bad.
Our knickknacks, our statues…all that is left
when the ground swallows us up.

These poems are offered free for your enjoyment. If you use them as part of an event, meeting, educational or liturgical setting, please consider tipping the author.

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